Explore: Manufacturing

Engineering Apprentice
MBDA Missile Defence Systems

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Matthew Parkinson


My name is Matthew Pand I’m an engineering apprentice at MBDA. At the moment I’m working alongside an engineer who brought the Vibvis soldering machine into the company. So I’m working alongside of him, proving the machines capability, assuring it can do exactly what we want to do and then setting it up to do exactly what we want it to do. So that we can then use that on the production hardware that’s going through the manufacturing area.


I’ve gone through a four year apprenticeship so far. In the first year we spent time going round the shop floor, which is the manufacturing and working area. Go round various areas learning the capabilities that we have, what the various machines do, what each section within the factory does. Once we’ve got knowledge of that we then move on to the engineering placements where we’re working with fellow engineers as part of a team to get the product through and get the product out to the customer.


Back when I was at school I was very interested in subjects such as maths and science and electronics. I then went on and took electronics as one of my options in high school. From leaving school I decided I wanted to look into a career, something that involves them subjects. Did a bit of research and engineering came up as one of my first career that I felt that I wanted to go down. From that I then went on to looking at apprenticeships and what was available at the time. I did think about university and the options that that gave but I liked the idea or worked based learning. The skills you’re picking up at the work, help with the qualifications and vice versa really. I have read up on apprenticeships but I didn’t know what to expect and what I would get out of it at the end. I knew what was available to get out of it, but I didn’t know how hard it would be to actually develop my skills and progress through into a career.


My dad is actually a police officer, he’s been in the police for a long time now and my mum is a teaching assistant in a primary school. They respected that I wanted to go along with an apprenticeship they thought it was a really good idea. Get a lot of free time; I get a lot of holidays and things. I’m in to sport, I play football and golf. Obviously coming straight from school I’ve had a wage so that’s allowed me to buy own car, pay for insurance for a car after passing my test so yeah it allows for a lot of benefits.


Within MBDA there’s a lot of courses that they put you’re through as part of your apprenticeship that help you develop your personal aspects as well as your knowledge and your work experience. I’ve been on courses such as the life skills course, where you go and you do presentations and you work as part of a team and you lead teams, so it helps with that part of it also.


So you get a lot of personal confidence. I wasn’t surprised as such because I did a lot of research into that the company does and Id sat down with the apprentice manager and had discussions as to what was going to be involved in the apprenticeship and what benefits I was going to get form the apprenticeship so it didn’t surprise me as such but there are a lot of things that I’ve done as part of the apprenticeship that I thought were very good and useful and that I didn’t think I’d get the opportunity to do before starting. Also there’s opportunities to move up into job roles within the company. If you want to do different things or you want to progress in your career.


A lot of school teachers and people within the education system, as well as parents think it’s better to go to university but I don’t think that they know the benefits you get out of an apprenticeship and a technical apprenticeship in the various careers that they are available in.

Matthew had a passion for science and engineering whilst at school. He looked into university but decided it wasn’t for him and instead decided to apply for an apprenticeship. He joined MBDA four years ago as an apprentice and has been amazed at how much he has learned and the opportunities he has been given. He would highly recommend doing a science and engineering apprenticeship to give you the chance to learn whilst earning.

More information about Engineering technicians

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

87%  male 
13%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Engineering technicians perform a variety of technical support functions to assist engineers with the design, development, operation, installation and maintenance of engineering systems and constructions.
Entrants to training usually posses GCSEs/S grades. Vocational training consists either of full-time study for a BTEC/SQA award followed by two years on-the-job training, or an apprenticeship leading to an NVQ/SVQ at Level 3 or 4. An NVQ/SVQ in Aircraft Engineering Maintenance at Level 3 plus further professional qualifications are required to become a licensed aircraft engineer.
  • Plans and prepares work and test schedules based on specifications and drawings;
  • Sets up equipment, undertakes tests, takes readings, performs calculations and records and interprets data;
  • Prepares estimates of materials, equipment and labour required for engineering projects;
  • Diagnoses and detects faults and implements procedures to maintain efficient operation of systems and equipment;
  • Inspects completed aircraft maintenance work to certify that it meets standards and the aircraft is ready for operation;
  • Visits and advises clients on the use and servicing of mechanical and chemical engineering products and services.
Employment by region
Top 10 industries for this job
Head offices, etc 12939
Specialised construction 10208
Public admin. & defence 6662
Machinery, etc 5230
Metal products 5050
Other trans. equipment 4822
Architectural & related 4333
Warehousing, etc 3784
Repair & installation 3693
Wholesale trade 3341
Employment status

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